We continue walking through the prophetic text in Daniel 8 and look at the abomination of desolation. We talk about Antiochus Epiphanes and the great tribulation, and explore the interpretation of Daniel’s vision and an application of it for our own lives.
The abomination of desolation
In Daniel 11:31—we’re going to see this when we get over to Daniel 11—we’re going to be talking about a lot more detail about these various intrigues that happened during this time period.
And in 11:31, we’re talking about Antiochus Epiphanes.
And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress—the temple—then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
Antiochus, when he put the altar of Zeus and he sacrificed the pig on the altar, he did the abomination of desolation, and perhaps other things as well.
And what we’re going to see in chapter 12 is that same term is used for what the antichrist is going to do at the end of the age.
When Jesus says, “When you see the abomination of desolations spoken of in Daniel,” that phrase refers to two different things: It refers to the Antiochus Epiphanes event; but, of course, in the time of Jesus, that’s already happened. That happened almost 200 years ago.
So, what he’s talking about is something like that is going to happen again in the future. And when that happens, then you know that the time of the end is coming. And in chapter 12, we’re going to see this abomination of desolation happens in the middle of the seven-year period, the Tribulation, when the Great Tribulation begins.
So that’s the background of this Antiochus Epiphanes.
Verse 10. And it grew up—this horn growing to the south. This is Antiochus. —it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.
So you’ve got a spiritual battle happening here. If you go in and you put an altar to Zeus, and you outlaw Judaism, that’s a spiritual war breaking out. “We’re going to exterminate the Jews.” Have you ever heard that before? “We’re going to exterminate the Jews. We’re going to exterminate Judaism. Anybody who’s going to practice Judaism is going to die.”
So now we have a spiritual war underway.
Verse 11. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host—Theos Epiphanes, right? And also, “I will determine who you will worship.” —and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.
Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn—That’s Antiochus—to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
So Antiochus is doing great.
Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?”
And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
And so, most likely what this means is there were 2300 days where the sacrifices had stopped and the defilement was taking place until it’s restored. So again, what the Bible’s predicting is something really bad’s going to happen. It’s going to last for a certain period of time, and then I’m going to clean it up.
And these “days” here, these do not correspond to any of the days in Revelation or the days about the tribulation times. Totally different number. So, it’s pretty clear here, we’re talking about Antiochus. We’re going to see it almost stated overtly here in just a second.
The time of the end
So, verse 15. Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.
And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai—this river he’s at—who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”
So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”
Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.
Now the fact that this says “time of the end” and this Antiochus is before even Jesus makes you wonder, “Why does he say ‘the time of the end’?” And I think one way to look at it is when you look at Revelation, it looks at the beast. And the beast has the characteristics of Babylon, it has the characteristics of Persia, and it has the characteristics of Greece. And it is a Roman beast. All these things coming together are building up to the time of the end. That’s one thought.
Another thought is that this antichrist picture here, this Antiochus, is foreshadowing the next antichrist, that’s still in the future to us, which is ultimately going to lead to the kingdom of God.
So all this time—we’re living in the end times. We are in the time of the end even though we don’t know how close to the end we are.
The time of the indignation
Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.
And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.
So there’s going to be an indignation where people rise up against God, and that is what God is patiently enduring at this point in time; but it is going to be cleaned up.
The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia.
Now we’re getting an explicit explanation. The two horns are Media and Persia.
And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. Which, again, at this time would have been pretty unthinkable that the kingdom of Greece could do something like this.
The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. That’s Alexander the Great.
As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
And this is the four—the Ptolemy, the Seleucids, Macedonia, and Greece.
“And in the latter time of their kingdom, the Greek kingdom,
When the transgressors have reached their fullness,
A king shall arise, (This is Antiochus Epiphanes.)
Having fierce features,
Who understands sinister schemes. He took his throne by intrigue.
His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; So we’ve got this spiritual battle going on, and, likely, this is Satanic that this is happening. And he’s thrown some of the host of heaven down. We’ve got a Satanic clash here, the good versus the evil breaking out in the physical world just like it’s going to take place in the time of the end with Revelation.
He shall destroy fearfully,
And shall prosper and thrive;
He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.
Remember many people were killed by his army—the Jews.
“Through his cunning
He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule;
Again, this is foreshadowing the antichrist who’s going to make a covenant, and there’s going to be this time of peace, and then he’s going to break the covenant, and there’s going to be the worst time ever. It’s a deceit.
And he shall exalt himself in his heart. Theos Epiphanos. “I am like God. I am the representation of God on earth.”
He shall destroy many in their prosperity.
He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; He’s going to stand up directly against God and the God of Israel, which he did when he said Zeus comes in here instead of sacrificing to Yahweh.
But he shall be broken without human means. Antiochus Epiphanes died a natural death of some kind.
“And the vision of the evenings and mornings
Which was told is true;
Therefore seal up the vision,
For it refers to many days in the future.”
No one understood
And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.
Now this phrase, “No one understood it” is really interesting because that would indicate that probably he explained this vision to other people, and people are trying to figure out, well, what does this mean? What does this mean about the Medes and the Persians? What does this mean about Greece? It could well be that Belshazzar—who’s only a dozen years away from the end of the Babylonian empire here—could have had his thinking influenced by this dream. We don’t know.
But clearly they’re trying to figure it out even though he explicitly said “the Medes and Persians and then the Greeks.” And they’re like, “How could that be? How is that possible?” It’s very interesting.
But for us, looking back, we can say, well, God had preordained that this was going to take place, and what was seemingly impossible for the circumstances of this day was certain in the economy of God.
What do we take from this? Well, what we take from this is the same thing we take from Revelation which is—God is in control.
Remember in Revelation, the word throne shows up 41 times. And most of Revelation takes place from the throne room or surrounding the throne room or somehow connected with the throne room. And the real clear picture is—God never leaves here. No one challenges this throne.
And remember in Revelation, every terrible thing that happened was authorized.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse go out. And it was given to them to conquer. It was given to them to go and do famine.
The demons in the bottomless pit, the angel comes down and says, “Here. Here’s the key. Let them out.” It was authorized to let those guys out.
All these things are authorized. Every single thing is authorized. And so terrible things happen, and God is letting those things happen as part of his plan for human history.
Now, does God tell Satan, “Hey, I want you to go do this”? No, he doesn’t tell Satan to go do that. Satan is Satan. Satan does what Satan does. He wants to ascend the most high, and he wants to eliminate anybody that’s in his way. Which—he has a lot of friends in the world that want to ascend to the most high and eliminate anybody that’s in his way.
Antiochus and all these ancient rulers fit that mold very well. Assassination was very routine. We saw it in the Roman emperors. We’ve seen it in all these different empires.
Ultimately, God is in control and the outcome is certain.
God’s relationship with the Jews
So, for the Jews, they suffered horrifically. They’re exiled, and then they’re brought back. Then they’re exiled again. Now they’ve been brought back again. But they’ve not been restored to what God has promised them. Not yet. But is it going to happen? Yes, it’s absolutely certain.
Let’s just close by looking at Romans 11 where these things are promised very explicitly with respect to the Jews. And Paul is firming up an argument against these detractors, these slanderers, who are attacking his message.
And in Romans, it has two parts. In chapters 1-8, he’s really going against the idea that they’re saying, “Paul is teaching grace, that God just gives us justification in his sight. That can’t be right! You gotta come and follow our rules also!” Right? These Jewish competitors said, “You gotta follow our rules! You can’t just have God just come in and give you this grace! If you did, then you could go sin all you wanted to, and it would make God more gracious, which means you should sin because that would be doing God a favor.”
See how crazy that is? That’s what the detractors are saying. He answers that in 1-8.
But they follow on and say, “Well, look, if the law, our rules, are not followed, then that would mean that God had cast aside Israel!”
And Paul is arguing in 9-11, “Absolutely not!” In fact, in 11:1, he asks the question that he would be answering from these slanderers, “I say then, has God cast away his people?”
Now interestingly enough, this theological stream that says, yes, actually God has cast away his people, which is very common, is directly contradicted by Paul here because he says, “Certainly not!” He absolutely has not cast away his people! And then he says, “I’m one of them. He hasn’t cast me away!”
But why then are the Jews not accepting Christ? Why are the Jews not following God as God has invited them to do?
Verse 11. I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Does God just want them to fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
So all this bad stuff that happened to the Jews has turned out to be wonderful for us because God lets terrible things happen, and out of it, wonderful things come.
And, of course, our bent would be to say, “Let’s just skip the first part and do the second part. Let’s have the health without the exercise. How about a pill? Just give us a pill.”
Well, it’s not the same if you do that. There’s not the lessons learned.
Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! Verse 25. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
See how this conversation that Paul is having is relative to us today in 2017 sounds so much like what is happening in Daniel in 300-something B.C., speaking of the time of the Maccabees in 160 B.C. It’s all seamless.
Verse 26. —the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
Has God forsaken the Jews? Has God forsaken Israel? Did his promises to Abraham get shifted to somebody else? Absolutely not. It got expanded to somebody else. Us. We got grafted in, and it’s an awesome privilege for us.
God’s relationship with us
So as we look at the way Israel is being chastised and groomed and pruned so that they can bloom to be all God intended them to be, I think that directly applies to us, both as a group and individually.
What does God do in our individual lives? He prunes us. He grooms us. And if we will listen, he corrects us and chastises us. Why? So that we can grow into all that he intended us to be. And if we insist on it, we can have death instead. If we insist on it, we can have slavery instead. We can have that if we insist. But what God wants us to do is to be faithful witnesses and not fear death. And in doing so, he’ll elevate us to be victors, conquerors, overcomers.